Sunday, October 4, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what exactly is it? Part 3

Rom 1:15-17 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

This begins the third installment of this series about the gospel. I believe that it is necessary for two reasons; 1) it is difficult to identify what the content of the gospel is when asking people to define it, even church leaders are somewhat unsure; 2) It is not shared as regularly as the first century apostles insisted, especially Paul. For example, Paul claimed that he had determined to know nothing amongst the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, (1 Cor 2:2.) In that statement, one can see how important the gospel was to Paul. It is also important, to note that according to Paul, the full message of the gospel was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15;1-4.) I will develop this more in further posts, but for now, it will suffice it to say that the gospel in Paul's mind was very simple.

Let's look at the clause, for therein the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. Last time I wrote about the righteousness of God, being two fold, first being a quality of God for providing the gospel, and second it was a state of righteousness that was provided to humanity because of faith in Jesus' faith. Jesus' mission to earth was to have faith. Let me repeat this for effect... *Jesus main mission to earth was to have perfect faith.* How can I be sure you ask? Well it is really quite simple. The first Adam did not believe God and brought about death. The *Last Adam,* (Jesus Christ,) believed God. That was his important obedience. It was the obedience of faith. That is what Jesus did for humanity as the incarnation. He believed against all odds, and it is obvious that he was tempted far beyond anything most people experience, and still believed that God was his Father.... I want this to really sink in.... He was born to Mary, Joseph claimed him as a son, think about that. He grew up with everyone thinking that he was born as normally as the next person. Still at the age of 30 he believed against all odds that he was the Son of God.

It does not stop there however, look at another example... In Luke's gospel we are provided a scene where Jesus has alienated many people with his claims. This was to the extent that his mother, his brothers and sisters were outside trying to take him home to rest. They thought he had lost his mind, think about it... this was his entire family. Still, he believed. He went so far as to say that the ones who believed in Him were is real mother, brothers and sisters. He still believed against all odds that He was the unique Son of God. I want to repeat for effect that Jesus faith was perfect, and yet He still was tempted to doubt. In the garden prior to his arrest, He had seen a glimpse of what He was to face and yet He had to hold on to the faith knowledge that He was the unique Son of God. Think about Jesus faith for a minute. It was indeed perfect faith. I say it was the only thing that would right the wrong of Adam's lack of faith... again I hate to sound like a broken record but, pick this up... if you got it right away, forgive me my folly. Jesus perfect obedience was His perfect faith. I want to repeat this one more time to make sure that I have gotten this point across; *Jesus perfect obedience was His perfect faith.* This is how by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and how obedience entered by one man and by that came life eternal.... Now, our faith, apprehends Jesus perfect faith by believing this gospel message. This is what is meant from faith to faith, it was from Jesus perfect faith to our faith... more to come.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly? Part 2

Rom 1:16-17 NASB  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Here is the second in this series, I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly. You can read the first one here, but I would suggest you do so after reading this. I am going to use a different version in each one of these for the sake of allowing you to see the subtle differences in translation. The first was the HCSB, and now I have used the NASB. These are a couple of my favorite translations, but most are good.

In this particular post, I want to focus our attention on the phrase from verse 17, "for in it the righteousness of God is revealed." I think the "righteousness of God" has at least two meanings in this passage. The first meaning that I will look at is God's justice or the justness of God, and the second meaning is a quality that allows one to stand righteous before God, guiltless and righteous. Paul uses the term in both ways off and on through-out the epistle to the Romans, and I believe that he uses it that way in all of this epistles. The context determines which use is appropriate and I would like to further suggest, to broaden our understanding that both meanings are inextricably linked.

First off, God is completely just in his dealings with mankind. The gospel proves it, and is the vehicle with which God meets out his justice to humanity. Secondly, and equally as important, being just, He has through Christ Jesus, that is, through the resurrection from the dead, reinstated his first claim about humanity after creating male and female (Gen 1:31.) Through the gospel he has declared that humanity is very good. That is why, when one apprehends the gospel by faith they are adjudicated righteous. I believe that the truth of the matter is that in Christ, the whole world was declared very good, righteous, but we only apprehend it during our days here on planet earth by faith.

This is why it is from faith to faith. Yes, in some translations it states from faith for faith but I guess both are correct. Here is what I believe Paul meant by the phrase from faith to faith. I will expand on this in the third post which is to come, but I must mention it here to help increase understanding of what the gospel actually is. Jesus alone had perfect faith. His faith, that God was His Father; that He was from God; that God was willing to forgive and save; that he could bring peace with God to all; that He was setting to rights what had been lost in the fall... He had faith in all of the above and more I have not mentioned or thought of for that matter.

If the first Adam brought death through unbelief, then it only follows that the *LAST ADAM* would reinstate life from belief. So then, two things are accomplished by this gospel. (1) God is justified and shows his justice by providing a way of escaping the fall, and (2) through the resurrection from the dead, God has proven that Jesus is righteous for his faith. Everyone can then apprehend His faith by faith. It is really quite simple. The gospel is simple. We will see this more and more as this series progresses, stay tuned!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly? Part 1

Rom 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. (17) For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

I want to begin a series that addresses the question; what exactly is the gospel? I hope it will be informative, and cause us to examine what we mean when we use the word gospel in our writing or in our speech. We must look into what Paul meant by the gospel. Why you ask? The answer is simple. His mission was to the Gentiles. Therefore, all Gentile believers especially, must of necessity, be interested in the gospel according to Paul. Paul lays it out in Romans like no other epistle.

Rom 1:1-7 " Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God's good news-- (2) which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures-- (3) concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh (4) and who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness. First of all Paul was singled out for the gospel. It was promised by the prophets in the sacred writings, but it was a story about God's Son Jesus Christ, who is Lord, descended from David, but was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection.

(5) We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name, (6) including yourselves who also belong to Jesus Christ by calling: (7) To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was made an apostle to bring about the obedience of faith to the Gentiles. The Greek word, translated as nations is ethnos and it is the word that is used when you see the word Gentiles translated. Take notice that Paul calls it the obedience OF faith. The King James Version erroneously translates it as obedience to the faith in Romans 1:5, but then, takes the exact same phrase and translates it the obedience of faith in Romans 16:26. That in and of itself is interesting and I have written blog posts on that alone, but that is not for this one at this time.

Rom 1:13-17 " Now I want you to know, brothers, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now) in order that I might have a fruitful ministry among you, just as among the rest of the Gentiles. (14) I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. (15) So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. (17) For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith." Here is verse 13 it is spelled out that Paul's ministry was to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. This makes Paul's explanation, definition, and description of the gospel most important to us here in the 21st century who make up a mostly Gentile Church.

In looking at Paul's claim here in this passage, I think it becomes important and instructive to understand a little bit about the Emperor Cult, the religion of Rome. Caesar was known as the Savior of the world, who had brought salvation to the world, and he was also believed to be the son of God, and they called him Lord. The reason for this is that he had brought peace to the world Pax Romana but it was done by military force. It is interesting to me that Jesus, his followers, and finally Paul, use this same language about Jesus. In Paul's gospel Jesus is Savior; Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is Lord, and Jesus saves the world by bringing peace to it.

However, Jesus does not do this by military force. He does it by resurrection from the dead, something that can not be said about anyone else including Caesar. Since Jesus followers lived in Rome occupied Israel, they were very familiar with the claims of Rome, and so it is not strange that they too would believe that Jesus meant to do it by military force. There are those today that still believe that ultimately Jesus will establish peace and his kingdom by military force. But, that was not what Paul or any of the writers of the New Testament were saying.

Paul was saying that what Caesar had accomplished in an imperfect way by imperfect means for the natural world, Jesus had accomplished on a cosmic, supernatural, spiritual level, that set to rights the world, and brought ultimate peace with God. It was a spiritual reality that transcends the natural. There is a lot more to be explored but this will do as a jumping off point with more to come in the next post.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Distorting the message and meaning of the scripture: Part I

Over the last six years, I have written many posts about the way that Jesus and His followers viewed scripture. They saw it as the redemptive narrative that pointed to Jesus the Messiah and His kingdom. Furthermore, they were removing the legal constitutional aspect of scripture that attended the old covenant and were installing a new and better way of achieving obedience. They were rejecting the read and do in favor of the believe and become. But even more importantly, they described a new and better catalyst for creating obedience. Paul called it the obedience of faith, and obedience of the heart.

You can find the operation and catalyst for the real transformation described in this among many blog articles found on this blog.  There are a lot more than just this one article so, if you find it interesting, and want more clarification, you can put "the transformation process" in the search box on the blog, and find several additional posts on this subject. It is my belief that understanding this process as it was explained by the first century apostles is the key to transforming the world around us, and bringing forth the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God.

However, current evangelical and orthodox doctrine ends up distorting the message and meaning of so many passages of scripture. The main reason for this is that current evangelical doctrine, and to a degree orthodox doctrine, focuses on a legal constitutional view of scripture. This makes it a law book and an instruction manual for all faith and practice. Doing this, actually voids the teaching of Jesus about the use of scripture, and leads away from the plan that will bring about supernatural transformation. As a result, we have many distortions of the scripture enshrined in evangelical doctrine.

This is the first blog post, in a series of the same name, that will serve as a guide and index for those to follow. I will briefly enumerate the distortions in this first post. Here is a list some of the verses that are distorted:

1. Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

2. Hebrews 13:17 " Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

3. 1Co 14:40 " Let all things be done decently and in order."

4. 1Co 14:33 "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

The above verses are used to distort the use of authority within assemblies, and bring about a kind of cultic obedience, elevating leadership way above anything that God intended. This is always the case with the legal constitutional view of scripture. It is problematic because it is used to control people in fairly abusive ways to allow the leaders to achieve their goals and keep people in subjection, in many cases, to their every whim. It brings about a kind of devotion that elevates men and women to the position that should only be held by God.

The truth of the matter is that all of the scripture was written to specific situations, and various different occasions. It is impossible to completely know the circumstances of the occasions, and therefore, it is impossible to know exactly what was intended in more than the way in which the literary and historical context allow. Yet, in the above passages of scripture, I hear pastors and leaders quoting them as though they are a hard fast principle that can be applied to every situation and that is just not so.

In fact, the common use of these scriptures in current evangelical doctrine brings about an unhealthy, authoritarian system that keeps individuals in bondage to their various assemblies, and prevents the atmosphere and teaching that leads to the transformation that I mention above in this post. It relegates the transformation process to a self reformation process that continually heightens guilt and fear.

Jesus said to the first century believers that "they would know the truth (Jesus), and the truth would set them free." Why are so many assemblies today putting people into religious and psychological servitude? Only the gospel, properly understood and proclaimed, will begin to overturn this sorry situation. I can no longer in good conscience remain silent. I am exposing the demon of religion in one of its worst manifestations. Stay tuned as this series will look at each of the scripture passages above, and show how they should be used.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Another King James Only Encounter

Well I just wrote about bumper sticker Christianity a while back and well it happened again. My wife and I were at Captain D's fish restaurant. While we were ordering a man and his wife were just ahead of us and he smiled at us and gave us a tract, and asked us if we knew Jesus as our personal savior. I politely answered yes, and took the tract. They had ordered before us so they were leaving before we did and walked over to our table, told us about their church, and then he said, "we only teach from the King James bible. It is the only version that is inerrant and infallible."

Well, I replied that it was a good version and I liked it but it was not inerrant and infallible. Why did I say that? I really prefer not to have these conversation's, but I also am opposed to people stretching the truth. I then confessed that I was somewhat of a theologian, and that I had taught New Testament at a seminary, and could read Greek a little, and that, while very good and quite accurate, the King James version was not inerrant. He became angry, told me that he had to leave and would not discuss it further. He then (smile) went on telling me about textus receptus, and all the other codeces, and how the King James Version was the only one authorized by God. His reasoning was that God would not give us a bible that had errors.

I once again began to try to point out some of the errors that I think are especially troublesome and he got angrier and said, no, I am not going to discuss this any farther. When I became silent, he began again to try to convince me that the King James Version was the only version that was correct. He said that I could read other versions if I wanted to but they would not be sufficient and that I needed to only consult the King James as the final authority.

By this time, I wanted to laugh out loud but I chose not to be rude. Finally he left. I have to wonder to myself, why are their so many ignorant believers? He seemed to think that we got the King James Version, similar to how people in Star Trek got their food. It must have been instantly put out of a replicator in King James English. Now, I am not trying to put down the King James Version. I like it and I use it a lot. What I would like to have happen is for the saints of God to be a little more open minded, have a little bit more historical knowledge, understand that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and that the New Testament was written in Greek. It had to be translated into English, and no matter how hard one tries something gets lost in translation. Yes, they are sufficient to make us wise for salvation; yes they tell us the redemptive story of God's love for us, but they are not inerrant, and they are not meant to be a legal, constitutional document, nor are they meant to be a science book, or a complete history book.

They should read John 5:39-40 and realize that they are there to point us to Jesus of Nazareth.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bumper Sticker Christianity

As I visited a local Walmart today, I saw a bumper sticker that had been placed on the door as if it were a sign. The bumper sticker read as follows: "THE KING JAMES BIBLE IS THE PERFECT WORD OF GOD." This bumper sticker turned sign shows the epitome of ignorance that is within the ranks of evangelical, fundamental, charismatic, and Pentecostal Christianity. No true theologian would make that claim. Even the most strict bibliolaters would consider this bumper sticker false. Yet, this graphically explains what is most wrong with evangelical Christianity.

I have proven over and again on this blog that the "perfect word of God" is Jesus and the gospel. The fact is that there are many errors in the King James Bible. There are errors in all bibles and the only thing that a theologian would assert is that the original autographs of the biblical books are perfect. The strictest Biblicist would not assert what the bumper sticker asserted. The King James Version is certainly a good version, better than some of the more modern in some ways but most definitely it is not perfect.

So, let's look at biblio-idolatry, known as bibliolatry. It is rampant in the ranks of evangelical Christianity in all of its forms. By all of its forms I mean, but do not limit it to fundamentalists, evangelicals, charismatics, Pentecostals and any form of Christianity has holds to a high view of the scripture. Holding to a high view of scripture in and of itself is not a problem. I hold a high view of scripture, however it is limited to the redemptive purpose of scripture. And most distinctively, I do not hold to the view of scripture that sees it as a legal constitutional document. While the Jews, before the cross were taught a legal constitutional view of scripture, Jesus and his first century followers began teaching a solely redemptive view of scripture, and redefined the phrase word of God to mean Jesus or the gospel.

I am totally convinced that if you were to be able to speak with Paul, or Peter, or James, or any writers of the gospels, and you referred to the bible as the "word of God" they would look at you strangely, and correct you. They would tell you that the scribes and Pharisees saw the scripture (Old Testament/Tanakh) that way, but they were correcting that view by showing that it only points to Jesus, and His redemptive purpose. They would go on to tell you that as a legal constitutional document it will only show you how much you fall short of God's standards. When read as a legal constitutional document, it will only act as an instrument to bring charges against you, and will only show you how much you need forgiveness and grace. Viewed as a legal constitutional document it only works as an instrument of the accuser of the brethren.

You may ask, how can this be the case? If the bible is the story of redemption, and not a legal constitutional document why hasn't the Holy Spirit told this to others? Why are there not more people who believe and teach this? This is a valid question and the answer is that the Holy Spirit has told many people, but some of them are so entrenched in the current evangelical doctrine, in religion when it comes to the scripture, that they are fearful of varying from it. People fear that if they do not see the scripture as a legal constitutional document, and if they don't see it as the word of God that it will somehow be diminished, to that I say hogwash. The fact is this, when one looks at the scripture exactly as Jesus and His first century followers did, it becomes less contradictory, and has much more solidity of message.

The fact is simple, the person that had the bumper sticker on their door as a sign, is actually tearing down the validity of the bible by making erroneous claims that have no basis in fact. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The way which seems right III

Pro 16:25  "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

This is the third post in this series. The other two can be found here and here. It would be best to read the other two first, but I will briefly recap where the other two have been, and provide a road map where this is going. It is my contention that the way which seems right... which is the way of death... is current evangelical doctrine. That is what this paradigm shift is all about. In order for the church to embrace real life, that is the life that Christ promised, it needs to reject the way that seems right in favor of the way that is right. The way that is right is the pristine gospel... that is, the gospel as it was understood by the first century church; the gospel that Paul et. al. taught.

It amazes me as I read the pages of the New Testament, how much evangelical Christianity and evangelical Christian doctrine resembles much of what the first century Christians wrote against. To begin with, the way that seems right, involves religious performance and moral excellence. There is no problem with moral excellence, except when it is demanded for, and used to judge worthiness in the sight of God. The problem is not moral excellence but religious performance. I am especially cognizant of the warnings in Matthew chapter 23. Jesus addresses the futility and hypocrisy religious performance. The reason is that religious performance inevitably produces pride and self-righteousness.

(Mat 23:15) " Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."

Pastors, teachers, and preachers know better than to be self righteous but because they are unwilling to show any signs of weakness and humanity in the eyes of their followers they end up fulfilling this passage all over again. Jesus was speaking to the scribes and Pharisees of his day in Judaism, but this is in reality a direct result of and problem caused by emphasis on religious performance and moral excellence. Ultimately, the focus of most church leadership is religious performance and moral excellence. That seems so right doesn't it? Ah, but remember, there is a way which seems right.... uhuh.

On the other hand, the pristine gospel, focusing only on the gospel, grace, and redemption promotes within a person, a peace, and rest with God, that translates to joy, and ultimately love for God which in turn begins to bring about moral excellence and genuine love for others. This is the mechanism of the gospel. Unfortunately, there are not many groups that have embraced the truth. Therefore, there is no real transformation because for the gospel to really change lives it has to be corporate, but it WILL NOT work under the current evangelical doctrine. The ultimate demand for religious performance and moral excellence will kill the spiritual transformation and force the individual to try to reform themselves. This is precisely what is wrong with Christianity, and why I am writing this series.

Pastors, teachers, and preachers are afraid to set their people free, and watch the gospel really work. They instead hold on to the doctrine for dear life, and by that kill the spiritual life of their congregation. They insist on keeping a legal constitutional view of scripture and that is a shame.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Way Which Seems Right II

Pro 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death"... This is the second post in a series that is looking at the meaning and interpretation of the above verse from Proverbs. It is found in two places in the Proverbs. The first is Proverbs 14:12 and the second one is Proverbs 16:25. This makes it an important concept since it was repeated. I would suggest that you take the time to read the first post if you haven't had the chance, and then read this one. In summary however, I posited that the way that seems right unto a man is any form of religion including evangelical doctrine and dogma. The death that results from the way which seems right is spiritual. While I am not suggesting in any way that it disqualifies one from eternal salvation, it practically brings death into the persons life. In other words, it works to kill the spiritual life that comes with the assurance of believing the gospel.

Over the last few years, I have found that so many of the doctrines that evangelical Christianity teaches are in error. I am challenging us to rethink some of our positions, and allow life to be the driving force of our day to day walk. It will only come to pass as we allow the Holy Spirit to correct some of the many errors we have been taught, teach and believe. In fact, church doctrine is so far off the mark that I wonder if it does much more harm than good? I rather think it does. It puts people into bondage when it should set them free. If the root is good, the branches are good, but if the root has error then the branches cannot help but be erroneous. Here is a list of the errors and problems that I have written about in this blog over time. These have all been proven to a point that goes way beyond the preponderance of evidence. They are hard to accept because they fly in the face of conventional doctrine. They challenge and sometime contradict what we have been taught and accept as fact.

List of errors that separates church teaching from the teaching of the first century apostles that wrote the New Testament:
  1. Viewing the entire scripture as the word of God; The first century followers of Christ limited the definition to the gospel and Jesus the gospel made flesh. This gave it a redemptive focus rather than a legal constitutional focus.
  2. Viewing the scripture as a legal constitutional document; Jesus and his followers taught a solely redemptive focus to the scripture.
  3. Misinterpreting Romans 10:17; The New Testament teaches that faith comes by hearing the gospel, and not necessarily the scripture as a whole. Faith only comes by hearing the gospel so the scripture is only the word of God as it defines and describes God's redemptive work in the world through Jesus Christ.
  4. Not recognizing the transition that takes place within the pages of the scripture, especially the New Testament; The New Testament is a book about a transition. It is a transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and it does not come abruptly... not even in the New Testament writings.  It begins with a story about the Jews, under the Old Covenant. It moves from John the Baptist (Last Old Testament Jewish Prophet) to Jesus (New Covenant Prophet, Priest and Messiah) to the cross event, to Pentecost and a strictly Jewish Church, to the story of Cornelius and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church without the necessity of circumcision, to the New Creation that Paul wrote to made up of Jews and Gentiles who believe the gospel.
  5. Not recognizing the audience relevance of the New Testament writing; The gospels are almost exclusively about and to the Jews prior to the cross event. This makes the messages of John the Baptist, and Jesus specifically and primarily to Old Covenant Jews facing the advent of the covenant transition. We make a grave mistake when we extrapolate those messages as if they were written to us on the other side of the cross event. This is especially true if we are Gentiles. There is an obvious Jew/Gentile distinction within the pages of the New Testament.
  6. Not recognizing the specific intended audience of the epistle of James and Hebrews; Both Hebrews and James was written to the believing Jews. James early on to an exclusively Jewish Jerusalem church and Hebrews, just prior to the destruction of the temple, again to Jews who were about to renounce Christ to stop persecution. The book of James is turned into a reason for emphasizing the legal constitutional aspect of scripture by church teachers, which is far from the truth. Hebrews on the other hand is a manual that acts as the rosetta stone for understanding the New Covenant.
This is not an exhaustive list but because this post is beginning to run long, it will need a follow-up post. but you can begin to see just how far off the mark Christian doctrine is and why God would be awakening people to a new and better understanding of the scripture. One that will put the proper focus on Christ and begin to reduce the worship and fear that it gives to men, especially those in leadership. This is why I am bold enough to suggest that the current church state of affairs is probably more damaging than beneficial. All of this is backed up nicely by a careful reading of scripture.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Way Which Seems Right I

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬

The way which seems right to a man; what is that? Well, let's analyze that statement. Most people believe that this means any old way of the world that seems right to a person, such as, drinking, clubbing, fornicating, and any other behavior or action that is prohibited by evangelical dogma. I don't believe that is so. 

What seems right to most people is some kind of religious observance, or something that is agreed as moral and right by society. The way that seems right to most people is the way that will make the person seem good and acceptable. The way that seems right to an individual is the way in which the knowledge of good and evil (the wisdom of the world) judges good actions from evil actions and right actions from wrong actions. Yet, Proverbs states plainly in two different passages the same fact. The end of the way that seems right, always ends in death. 

The reason for this in my view is that the act of acquiring the knowledge of good and evil resulted in death. It only makes sense that exercising the knowledge of good and evil would bring the same result. To explain it further, Paul called the Law the ministry of death in 2Cor 3:7. He explained that the letter kills but that the Spirit gives life. The reason is that with the knowledge of good and evil, the Law will merely always show us that we fall short. It will kill our spiritual hope in our ability to be righteous before God. One cannot use the knowledge of good and evil to know that they are right with God. They can only know that by faith.

It is here that it must be seen that the way that seems right to a man is only possible as the result of the knowledge of good and evil. Without the knowledge of good and evil, one could not possibly know the way that seems right. Right or wrong would not exist to the person who does not have the knowledge of good and evil at his or her disposal. Therefore, merely exercising our inherited condition from the garden fall results in death.

This is why the legal constitutional use of scripture as it was designated under the Old Covenant is the ministry of death. Jesus overcame death and proved that God will stop at nothing to have a relationship with humanity. His resurrection shows that God will always cause triumph for humans. So then, when one looks at it correctly, the way that Jesus came to show us, when one by faith accepts the act of redemption, the way that seems right to humanity is overthrown. It does not seem right to a woman or a man that God would simply declare us righteous, based upon the faith and actions of another, but that is exactly what He has done through Jesus Christ.

This should not surprise us at all because God clearly declared mankind righteous before the fall. In Genesis 1:31 it is stated. This information of God's plan and actions predates the garden experience. It is only with this understanding that the chronology of Genesis truly makes sense. It is written that;
Gen 1:31 " God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day." Notice, God's creation including male and female was not just good, before he included mankind he said that his creation was good, but after the creation of humanity, he said it was VERY GOOD!

Stay tuned for part two coming in a few days, but let me give you a preview. In view of this, why are so many striving so hard to please him with works, meetings, etc?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reformation, Transition, Transformation

The single most profound effect the church has experienced over the last five hundred years is the Reformation. After all, all the denominations of the protestant world are the result of the Reformation. It is interesting that during that time, that is the beginning of, and formation of the reformation was a time of upheaval. Families and friends were divided over what they believed to be true. People were labeled heretics, and sometimes killed. The Reformation was not a smooth transition. No, the people involved in it paid a real price for change.

I believe that we are in the beginning of another change in Christianity. This change will be even more profound than the last one. It is definitely a transition period, and that is obvious wherever one looks these days within the ranks of Christianity. For some reason, people do not readily welcome change. It is disquieting to say the least. Institutions provide a stability of sorts, and they do not relinquish power and control without a fight. The fact remains that Christianity, the church is in transition, and the very heart and soul of the kingdom is at stake. Transition is an action and for every action there is a counter reaction. Evangelical Christianity has a large reactionary element these days and for a time, it will grow even more intense.

This is obvious as you look at the various battle grounds with lines drawn in the proverbial sand. Marriage, gender, social justice are the areas where the battle rages. These are the areas of action and reaction. However, the real change is happening at a more basic theological place. This is the only area where the change that comes from transition will find its ultimate fulfillment in transformation. What must and will take place is a change in how one views the scripture and the gospel. The root of the current transition is doctrinal. So many want to avoid this but, alas it cannot be done.

As a blogger, I have a modest but larger than average amount of Facebook friends. I am asked to add a few weekly. What I see as I look at my news-feed is a fundamental divide that seems to be widening and growing more and more toxic. Of my Facebook friends, I dare say that 80 to 90% are there because of Christianity and my blogging about it. Because I have a definite belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, I realize that my writing, at times, attracts both sides of this divide. Yes, I have the outspoken action oriented people, and I also have the outspoken reactionary  individuals. I am confident that many, probably most of both sides, are very sincere and have sincere faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, they are in every way polar opposites, and if I were to get them together in a room, no doubt a fight would break out that would not bring surprise if it turned violent. 

So what is the key for this period of transition? Is it still more reformation or is it something quite new, is it transformation? I think it may be beneficial to define the three terms in the title, Reformation, Transition, and Transformation. They are defined as follows:
Reformation; the action or process of reforming an institution or practice.

Transition; the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Transformation; a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis; the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by a nuclear process.
Reformation does not work because it does not change the underlying structure. It merely reforms it. The change that we face, and the necessary characteristics of that change is transformation. It has to change at the most elemental level. It is nuclear. The main premise of this blog is that Christian doctrine as we know it today is fundamentally, elementally flawed. It is flawed in the following ways:
  1. The view of scripture is flawed. It is viewed as a legal constitutional document when it should be viewed as the story of redemption.
  2. The doctrine of Christ is flawed as it does not see Christ as the all in all.
  3. The doctrine of atonement is flawed as it is viewed in a penal substitution way and not as Christ being victorious.
  4. The doctrine of last things is flawed as it does not see that all things have already been made new and that the new heaven and earth, the New Jerusalem, is a current reality to be apprehended by faith.
  5. And most of all, the doctrine of the actual transformation is flawed because it does not acknowledge that grace and justification are the sole ingredients to the ultimate change. 
If one were to take the time to read in depth the articles on this blog it would be easy to find out that the above points are correct and that Christian doctrine is so flawed that nothing outside of transformation will correct it. I challenge you to thoughtfully read this blog from beginning to end and allow the scripture itself to speak to this. There is more than enough scripture cited in this blog to make up for the lack of it in this post.

As for me, I will settle for nothing short of total transformation!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

God became the *ALL IN ALL* through Jesus Christ, Do we believe it?

Let's take a look at Paul's prayer for all disciples and see what we find out about Jesus actually being "God all in all (1Cor 15:28.) You find the words of this prayer in Ephesians chapter one.
"Eph 1:17-23 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
We know that in the risen Jesus the fullness of the godhead dwells in bodily form Col 2:9. Why is it that so many churches are putting the emphasis on Yahweh and not Jesus? If you listen to most sermons, most Sundays, you will find that God generically is worshipped and proclaimed, and that Jesus is relegated to a subservient place. He may get two or three minutes at the end of the sermon in the altar call but for the most part that is it.

In 70AD, at the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the fact is, that Jesus enemies were put under his feet. God had manifested who his sons and daughters really were and they were all, both Jew and Gentile that believed in Jesus. The kingdom was turned over to God except that the fullness of the godhead dwells in Jesus. Jesus is God. In Revelation 19 we are told that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Therefore, our preaching should solely be about Jesus, and our worship should go to Jesus solely. This is the gospel message. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and when it was reconciled, God chose for the fullness of the Godhead to dwell bodily in Jesus Christ.

Look at the Prophet Isaiah's words: (Isa 9:6-7 NLT) " For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven's Armies will make this happen!" It is as plain as day, I used the NLT to make certain that we did not misunderstand the message... The Son that was given, the child that was born is EVERLASTING FATHER. Let's get our priorities straight and begin to worship Jesus with the worship he is due!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Does the author of the book of Hebrews, equate sin and unbelief and are they synonymous?

As we have shown before in many articles on this blog. Jesus and his first century followers redefined the phrase word of God, and used a solely redemptive hermeneutic that saw Jesus as the fulfillment, and purpose of all the scripture. This makes progressive revelation very important. Progressive revelation means that the Spirit gave more and more specific details about prophecy as prophetic events unfolded and that the revelation that came later must temper our view of previous revelation. Along with this, it likewise makes sense that the Spirit would speak with in the cultural development of people. This makes looking at what the New Testament writers wrote very important in determining what the exact meaning of passages, phrases and words was. One cannot take the previous revelation at face value.

It is obvious when one reads Hebrews 3 & 4 that the writer equates sin and unbelief. In fact, I think that it is safe to say that when one looks at the term sin, missing the mark, that the first definition one should use is unbelief. The original sin in Genesis was a sin of unbelief. Adam and Eve believed Satan who had contradicted God instead of believing God, so the sin, that entered into the world (Romans 5:12) was unbelief. So let's look at a different and perhaps more correct way to write Romans 5:12...
"Rom 5:12-14 Therefore, just as unbelief entered the world through one man, and death through unbelief, in this way death spread to all men, because all did not believe. (13) In fact, unbelief was in the world before the law, but unbelief is not charged to a person's account when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not disbelieve in the likeness of Adam's transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One."
This is precisely why Romans 6:17 mentions obeying from the heart. Obeying from the heart is believing the gospel message plain and simply, and it is what puts one in right standing with God. The actions that current evangelical dogma calls sin is merely a symptom of unbelief. Here is where an entire fellowship, believing the gospel, and that grace is the driving force will reinforce an atmosphere of rest that will promote love, and supernaturally transform individuals. Getting this concept right... that in the New Covenant sin and unbelief are synonymous... is very important in setting that proper atmosphere.

So let's get back to Hebrews and the use of sin, disobedience, and unbelief. When you read Hebrews 3:17 - 19 it becomes glaringly obvious that the writer interchanges sin, unbelief and disobedience. This is a concept that one needs to bring back to the entire scripture. The proof in the pudding so to speak is Hebrews 10:26-27....
Heb 10:26-27 For if we deliberately (disbelieve, sin, disobey) after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.
The above passage receives the clarity that the writer of Hebrews intended. There has been so much made of this verse, but the reality is simple. If we willfully disbelieve after hearing the truth. There is not other sacrifice for sin.  The preponderance of the evidence mounts for a drastic paradigm shift from evangelical dogma.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Do you have a New Covenant paradigm or and Old Covenant paradigm? How to recognize which

Let me make this clear. If you are a Gentile believer, then the only possible covenant for you to be under is the New Covenant. Yet, this blog has been devoted to recognizing and correcting error in the doctrine of the evangelical church. Let me broaden that to the church in general. While I am writing with the evangelical Christian in mind, what I write is true about the entire Christian Church. Let's revisit this premise one more time to be sure there is clarity. There is a big discrepancy between the doctrine of the church fathers and the doctrine of the first century apostolic writers who wrote the New Testament. The first century apostolic writers wrote that the word of God was the gospel, and that scripture had a solely redemptive purpose. How can I make that assertion you ask? That is easy, Jesus stated it in John 5:39-40 and again in Luke 24:27; 43-45.

However, if you listen to most Sunday morning sermons across the world, you will find that you are taught that the entire scripture is the word of God, and that the focal purpose of scripture is to modify behavior and lifestyle. Most treat salvation as a one time experience from hearing the gospel message, and then go on to teach an Old Covenant approach to the Law. I have many times referred to this as "Nike Slogan" Christians whose motto is "just do it!"

So what is a New Covenant paradigm anyway? That is simple. It is a paradigm that puts Jesus Christ and redemption at the forefront of everything. That is, every sermon, every song, every prayer, every praise and all worship. It is a paradigm that acknowledges and understand the pre-eminence of Romans 5:1. It is a paradigm that realizes that peace with God is the most important driving force in the transformation process. It is a paradigm that encourages rest in the finished work of the cross and total efficacy of the blood of Jesus in reconciliation.

The New Covenant paradigm acknowledges that God emptied his divinity to become humanity like us, and then forsook all ego in the humiliating death of the cross. It is the forsaking of the ego, with faith in the eternal that made all the difference in the world and is the reason that all of our devotion, worship, love should be focused on Jesus Christ and Him alone.

And still, every Sunday, the Old Covenant paradigm drones on and on in sermon upon sermon that seldom acknowledges the supremacy of Christ. The Old Covenant paradigm, ignores in practice, the Christ centered focus that heals the wounded soul. And the accuser of the brethren is given voice to tear down and discourage rather than build up and encourage.

As we have shown in other posts, what Paul meant when he authored "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God" he meant very specifically that faith cometh from hearing the gospel. It is the gospel that encourages, and the seasoned saint needs to hear it often to be encouraged, and to overcome the works of the devil. The New Covenant paradigm will always uplift, and it will always center on the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth the Savior of the world! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Arriving at the Paradigm Shift: A preponderance of evidence IV

Here is one of many such verses that shows that the first century apostles meant gospel when they used the phrase word of God.  Act 6:7 " The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." It is not the scripture that spread. No, it's the gospel that spread. In context it can mean no other thing. Now, this is but one of many isolated examples of a preponderance of verses in the New Testament writings that show the first century writers  redefining the phrase the word of God. When you look at all the passages, the preponderance is so great that it defies reason to wonder why no one sees it. I say that there is a theological reason. I think that over the years people fear that if one accepts the New Testament definition of the phrase "word of God," that the scripture somehow becomes diminished. That could not be further from the truth.

If the majority teaching of the apostolic writers was that the word of God is the gospel, and that the purpose of scripture is solely redemptive it would give far more credence and authority to the scripture for many more people today. The agnostics and liberal theologians would lose 99% of their critical ammunition. I dare say that most of the biblical criticism crowd would lose the lion share of their arguments.

Seeing the biblical narrative as a redemptive metaphor while acknowledging the way in which it mirrors the development of civilization would completely silence the critics. I am fascinated by the way that the development of civilization as defined by spiral dynamics and integral theory lines up so exactly with the development spiral in the biblical record. If you are a serious biblical student you should take a look at these three videos by Doug King at I would especially recommend the first post, but if possible, view all three. It makes sense that God would reveal himself within the cultural understanding of the people at the time.

I am trying to set your mind at ease. You need not worry because Jesus and his first century followers saw the scripture in redemptive terms only. Look at John 8:3-11. It is interesting to me that the Jews at the time of Jesus, all zealous for the Law (Acts 21:20) did not practice stoning adulterers. They only brought a single case to test Jesus' zeal of the Law. The truth is that they did not practice stoning of adulterers at all. However, they did stone what they thought were blasphemers (Acts 7.) The reason for this was they saw that some of the Christian teaching was challenging their status quo. My point here is that as culture changed, adherence to the law changed. They had found a way to make it so that virtually no one was stoned for adultery. I am not saying that they were tolerant of adultery but rather that they had changed the way in which they dealt with it.

This is why spiral dynamics is important in our biblical view. It is also one of the reasons for the doctrine that we have today. Christian doctrine has been handed down from the end of the second century forward and it is mostly constructed by the early church fathers and added too by subsequent writers. It is important to understand that the bulk of Christian dogma was constructed under the blue lens... for an understanding of the blue lens view the video links in this blog post.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Arriving at the Paradigm Shift: A preponderance of evidence IIl

In the last two posts I have talked about the preponderance of evidence that led to my paradigm shift. So this question comes to mind; what should this mean to the church, its doctrine, its worship, and its faith and practice? When I mention the church I mean those who are believing in Jesus as the redeemer. I mean the universal body of believers, the catholic church, small c.

First off, it only makes sense that when one identifies as a believer in Jesus Christ, that they would follow what Jesus, and his first century apostolic writers taught. This means that they would look at the scripture from a redemptive view and not as a legal constitutional document. It means that they would define and teach that the word of God is the gospel or Jesus the living good news. When John wrote that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, he meant that the gospel (good news) became flesh and dwelt among men. He certainly did not mean that the scripture became flesh and dwelt among men. Therefore, the gospel should be the main focus of all Christians and Christian Churches. The gospel is as refreshing, if not more refreshing to the seasoned saint as it is to the new one. The gospel is the main defensive weapon against the accuser of the brethren. The gospel is the necessary re-assurance that promotes resting in the peace with the Father which only comes from justification by faith.

A follower of Christ should not use the scripture in a legal constitutional way. Even the instructions in the epistles that sound like commandments should not be viewed in a legal constitutional way. When they are the result is ALWAYS spiritual death and striving to please God in the flesh. They can only be efficacious when one is resting in redemption by faith alone. I am not saying that they cannot show the heart of God, and cannot be used to encourage godliness. I am saying that when they are used with a legal constitutional understanding or focus they always, always, always become a killing letter. This is precisely why the gospel has to be the main focus.

Christians, should worship Jesus. Paul tells us that in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, all of the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col 2:9.) Further, Isaiah prophesied that would be the case (Is 9:6-7.) The King of Kings and Lord of Lords in Revelation 19 is Jesus. The name of Jesus is to be worshipped by every tongue, and every bowing knee. When Jesus is worshipped there is a special anointing that can come in no other way. It is the name of Jesus that saves, heals, cleanses, and comforts. Why is the name of Jesus mentioned so little, and so many sermons are just a rehashing of Old Covenant messages that do not in any way point to Christ. Jesus said that the entire scripture points to him (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:27, 43-45.) If you use the Old Testament scripture it had better point directly to Jesus if you are a Christian and if it does not you should not use it.

In faith and practice every Christian should be resting completely in Romans 5:1. If you are a following believer of Jesus Christ you should be allowing the love of God and peace with God to be the driving catalyst of your life. A proper understanding of the apostle's doctrine (Acts 2:42) would promote real transformation in the life of the believer. Not reformation. That seems to be the main business of the evangelical, institutional church, and it is just flat out the wrong focus. It is no wonder church doctrine is so far off the mark.

I am going to be writing in this vane for a while so why not go over a lot of these posts and see the preponderance of the evidence for a paradigm shift?